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A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Unflinching Mercy for the Abused

‘The beauty of the cathedral does not oppose the cross but is its fruit.’ – Cardinal Ratzinger

The other morning in prayer I was startled by the image of a priest opening his vestments in a cathedral and abusing a boy. The act was as ugly as the building was beautiful. I felt rage: the boy was sacrificed on the altar of another’s perversion, and this, before the Lord! Ordained to protect, the priest destroyed. And the man over him—a bishop—protected the building, not the boy.

I wanted to race from the image and lose myself in mystery. But I could not. I asked God why and He seemed to say: ‘That boy relives the nightmare constantly. I give you a share in it. Money cannot heal him; His restoration hinges on whether or not he is believed and that priest defrocked, along with any bishop who covered for him.’

I could not flinch and turn away from the boy’s nightmare. To be unflinching means ‘to not be frightened of, or not to not try to avoid something dangerous…to look and describe something directly.’

I vented my anger in prayer and asked for justice to be served at the recent US Bishops’ gathering in Baltimore; I prayed for ways that the bishops might censure themselves (apparently, this question will be taken up by a global gathering of bishops in February.) Please pray for this crucial issue: unless bishops are disciplined, there is no restoration for victims.

I realized that day was the Feast of the Lateran Basilica, one chance a year for the Church to honor the cathedral of the pope in Rome, a mere building but one that conveys an essential about this Church built on apostles and prophets who point us to the new Jerusalem. I felt conflicted; in our abuse crisis, I am tempted to disdain the Church for what I fear hides beneath her ancient creeds and cloaks.

And yet this rather minor feast has always been my favorite day of all. Why? As I reread the Scriptures—Jesus on fire for the temple, incinerating its robbers (John 2), and the river flowing from the temple to ‘make all things new’ (Ezek. 47), I remembered: this is the Church I love—zealous in truth, and boundless in its river of life flowing from the Cross at altar—the water levels rising and my friends and I growing as trees along the banks of this holy river, our fruit becoming food for the hungry, our leaves anointed to heal the broken (v. 12).

Might this be the hour, O holy and merciful Jesus, when You re-enter Your house and expel those who crush the most vulnerable then lie about it? Might You then stir the waters and release a greater flood of healing for those most in need of it? May those devoured by robbers in Your house be restored by Almighty mercy.

May we not cease to pray and act until this is accomplished for the abused. Through the fruit of Your suffering—the healing flood rising in our midst—might the beauty You intend for Your house be restored, first for them then for all.

‘I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest, until He establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of all the earth.’
(Isaiah 62: 6, 7)

Please take time to watch our new video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

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Safe House

‘O afflicted city, lashed by storms and not comforted, I will build you with stones of turquoise, your foundations with sapphires…All your sons and daughters will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children’s peace’ (IS 54: 11, 13).

Our churches, lashed by identity politics and afflicted by abuse, need the Bridegroom to make us a ‘safe house.’ This is our last week of ‘Becoming Good News’; in truth, it is only the beginning of our becoming the Church ‘whose conventional appearance makes it a safe place into which one might take refuge,’ aka a ‘safe house.’

But how can a Church riddled with immorality become a sanctuary for the abused and identity confused? Responding to a rebuttal of his claim that the Pope and many Vatican officials covered for high-ranking homosexual abusers, Archbishop Vigano writes: ‘It is no exaggeration to say that homosexuality has become a plague in the clergy…It is an enormous hypocrisy to condemn sexual abuse, claim to weep for its victims, and yet refuse to denounce the source of so much abuse: homosexuality.’

Why pray for prodigals to come home to a sleazy celebration? Because God is raising an army of wounded healers who are intent on making that Church safe. Cowardly men in power cannot stop the Lord of hosts. He accomplishes what He wills. He wills to set captives free through His house, not in spite of it.

I write this at the end of a rocky finger pointing east off the Connecticut coast. We are lashed here by winds and rain as seasoned Living Waters leaders and new leaders-to-be gather. The range of churches–from contemplative Catholics to shaking Pentecostals—is awesome. We need each other’s gifts to become safe houses in our communities for every estranged son and daughter that Jesus is calling home. In response to our prayers!

We tell the truth about our lives—the disordered desires, abuse that divided us, shame that derided us—and the family of God whose pure hearts and clean hands helped reconcile us to the gendered gifts we are. No human powers can block what God is building. We are following His plan: humble disclosure met by Almighty mercy flowing through Christ’s members. Unstoppable. God does not need more clever administrators, more artful dodgers; He just needs willing hearts made tender and trustworthy by mercy.

We take our places–mutually submitting to bishops and pastors as we become ‘like living stones, built together into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ’ (1 P 2:5) Our sacrifice? The re-offering of our wounds, now visible to all–washed, set, becoming integrated into our good full lives. I submit to you this short film—Chaste Together (click here to watch)—that describes how Living Waters helps create a ‘safe house’ in local churches for the abuse and afflicted.

My hope is in Jesus. I am not discouraged by sleazy strains in the Church. I cannot answer for the accused. All I know is that God is mobilizing a healing army that will accomplish His purposes—‘to present to Himself a radiant bride’ (Eph. 5: 27), a bride who welcomes the wounded in mercy and truth.

‘See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. They will come weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them besides streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble. For I am Israel’s Father, Ephraim, my firstborn son’ (Jer. 31: 8-10).

We are currently in a time of prayer and fasting. If you’d like to pray along with us, let us know and we can send you a book or you can get it through kindle here: https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Good-News-Andrew-Comiskey-ebook/dp/B07F95JKP5!

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Kingdom Fire and Foes

‘I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already blazing…Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, division’ (LK 12:49, 51).

As we proceed in our 40 days together, I am grateful for answered prayers.

The Bishops’ Youth Synod concluded with a 60-page text that roundly rejected the use of any LGBT+ language. On one hand, a victory.

On the other, the Church that stays true to her noble ethic must ignite sinners with an empowered Gospel—the witness of the living God who transforms them. Jesus wants to encounter us afresh with His declaration: ‘The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the good news!’ (MK 1:14). The Spirit invites us to marvel anew at this ‘new teaching, and with authority!’ (MK 1: 27), what St. Paul described unflinchingly as ‘the whole will of God’ (Acts 20:27). Do we still believe that Jesus is able to raise the disordered into lives of splendid chastity?

I urge us all to pray for the Spirit to consume our sound teaching, like fire blazing from hard wood.

Here we must name the barriers that prevent the pure fire of the Gospel from burning in our midst. In humility, we pray for:

Zero tolerance for any priest found guilty of manhandling children, and any bishop who covered for him. Here the state is helping us. The US federal government has undertaken an investigation of many dioceses, including one in Buffalo that is heart-rending in its allegation of a standing bishop who played ‘god’ in selecting which abusive priests under his charge could remain hidden and active. The Church that protects her honor and resources over the well-being of children invites demonic oppression.

Consistent discipline and clear channels of restoration for all priests and bishops who cross sexual lines with adults of either gender. These sinners mock chastity, abuse power, scatter the sheep, and throw a wet blanket on the fire of transformation. The sexual sin of leaders hinders those who aspire to authentic purity. Porn addiction and unchaste relationships (often in the form of weird emotional bonds) need to be faced squarely by leaders whose bishops also provide restorative care for them. Please pray that Living Waters might provide a safe place for clergy to resume the journey to chastity. Pray for almighty mercy to prevail over judgment in their lives. Today’s climate of abuse exposure makes it extra-hard for clergy to admit moral vulnerabilities, let alone outright failures.

Empowered, holy women to take their places in the Church. We cannot know the whole truth without feminine wisdom and discernment. The Synod called for a ‘courageous cultural conversion’ in the church regarding the female voice and vote. Let it be so, Lord. Becoming sexually whole is meaningless without women.

Bold and relevant witnesses of how to ‘live the truth in love’ (Eph. 4:15). We say we want to reach young people but with few exceptions (Christopher West’s Theology of the Body Institute being one) we have done a rotten job at translating our truth for new generations. The only way to break the formalism that besets most Catholics? Earthy witnesses of what Jesus can actually do: persons who articulate their messes and the splendid order acquired through confession, Eucharistic worship, and discovering chastity together. Jesus has power to make crooked lives pure and upright. Yet we rarely hear such voices. I’ve attended the second biggest parish in my city for nearly a decade, and have yet to hear such a witness. And this in an hour when God is exposing the Church’s sexually immoral secrets. Pray for us to expose boldly and well our lives of beautiful chastity!

Kingdom fire in the Church is our freedom. But her flame smolders—not blazes– due to abuse, sexual sin among clergy, and the absence of feminine wisdom and earthy witnesses in our midst. Pray for the Spirit to burn what is foul, rouse what is true, and ignite our blazing torch of salvation.

We are currently in a time of prayer and fasting. If you’d like to pray along with us, let us know and we can send you a book or you can get it through kindle here: https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Good-News-Andrew-Comiskey-ebook/dp/B07F95JKP5!

 

 

 

 

 

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Conversion Therapy: Six Points Worth Considering

First, ‘conversion therapy’ is the current lightning rod of contempt for anyone who refuses LGBT+ identity and destiny. And anyone who supports that decision: friends and family, churches, therapists. While celebrating every person’s right to change partners or genders, our culture demonizes those who choose to align their bodies with their obvious purpose of generating new life.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the entertainment industry. 2018 began with ‘Miseducation of Cameron Post’ and ends with ‘Boy Erased’, a small film with big stars about a young man who following his rape by a college friend attends a 12-day ‘conversion therapy’ camp where he is subject to a prison-like house of horrors marked by manipulation of every kind. The credo is coercion: Christians imposing nightmarish tactics upon otherwise well-adjusted persons with same-sex attraction who become self-hateful. The cure? A jail-break! (In this case, with the help of Mama Nicole Kidman, for whom I would gladly flee the big house.)

Nicole aside, the vibe is everywhere. I just read a detailed article entitled ’Taught to Hate Myself’ that lists drug-induced aversion therapy, electro-shock treatments and use of heterosexual porn as ‘conversion’ tricks in curing gays, resulting in failed ‘straight’ marriages, suicide, and overall wrecked lives. Surprisingly, no professional counselors are named. You know why? No therapist worth his or her salt would engage in any of these trumped up shenanigans. ‘Conversion’ therapists do not exist. And if any facsimile of the ‘conversion camp’ of ‘Boy Erased’ ever existed, we can be grateful it does no more.

Second, the term ‘conversion’ therapy never existed in any professional sense of the word. Since the beginning of psychotherapy, clinicians have understood same-sex attraction to be a ‘reparative’ drive—not the defining characteristic of one’s sexual adulthood but a symptom of something else, an unconscious effort to repair some deficit or breach. From this understanding, skilled helpers help persons ‘to read’ their sexual desires properly; that involves helping clients to recognize legitimate needs at the heart of same-sex attraction, and to face painful relationships and traumas that may have contributed to the attraction. Here therapists function as healers of actual wounds that have divided lives and made persons more vulnerable to LGBT+ self-perceptions and behaviors, as in the case of childhood sexual abuse.

My journey to wholeness was laid by Jesus. But along the way, skilled helpers helped me sort out my desires along the narrow road to life, neither condemning me for them nor limiting me to their demands. They helped me to walk through same-sex attraction, face squarely some factors that contributed to it, and grow in self-acceptance.

Third, Living Waters, Courage, and all the ministries I know in the Restored Hope Network do not practice this form of therapy. How do I know that? We are not therapists! We are lay persons who come alongside anyone who—in light of identity conflicts and sexual addictions–wants to grow in the love of Jesus Christ. We meet in groups, which are voluntary, coercion-free, and aimed at centering one’s affections and identity upon Jesus Christ. ‘Therapy’ is a meaningful term and practice that should only apply to persons who have the skill to forge a long term, in-depth relationship with a person who wants professional help for the purpose of clearing out debris from his or her path to wholeness.

Fourth, we need these therapists! Persons with gender identity problems are vulnerable, not only to conflictual sexual desires but to mental health issues like chemical addiction, personality disorders, depression, and suicidal tendencies. We lay persons must recognize our limits in the face of another’s fragility. We must learn to refer our people to skilled helpers who can help individuals navigate a range of issues, including constructive ways of facing same-sex attraction beyond merely branding them LGBT+.

Fifth, I suggest that we work with new language. I’m fine with reparative therapy, but it is now guilty by its bizarre ‘conversion’ association. How about ‘integration’ therapy, which references the goal of becoming whole, united with the good of our own gender selves by overcoming divides that bar us from chaste relating with either gender?

Sixth, the battle is raging to demonize and do away with therapeutic help for persons refusing the LGBT+ destiny. Christians around our country are drinking the cool-aid; refusing to believe there is any psychological ‘stuff’ to gender disorders, they are joining the tirade against providing such help. That was evident in our recent, temporary win against 2943 in California. Although the bill was shelved, many Christians, including the saints at Rosemead, Biola University’s clinical counseling arm, went on record (see website) to refute therapeutic ‘change’ efforts as a kind of olive branch to the LGBT+ community. This will come back to bite us. Gay activist and author of 2943, Evan Low, has announced his plan to reframe the bill in 2019 and to outlaw all such therapeutic efforts. The fight goes on, and we must wage it without throwing our clinical allies under the bus.

We are currently in a time of prayer and fasting. If you’d like to pray along with us, let us know and we can send you a book or you can get it through kindle here: https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Good-News-Andrew-Comiskey-ebook/dp/B07F95JKP5!

 

 

 

 

 

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Presumption and Prayer

Between the lines of what we know and what we do not, we pray. The powerlessness of not knowing invites us into the depths of mercy. There many waters cannot quench love (SS 8:7). Deeper than the swirl of suspicion and fear, we discover a warm current that envelopes and carries us like a mother cradles her infant. St. Faustina is right: We ‘are closer to God in His mercy than an infant at its mother’s heart’ (Diary, #423).

What we know: Pope Francis received Cardinal Wuerl’s resignation for collaborating with homosexual abuser McCarrick then touted Wuerl as noble and placed him on a committee that will select future bishops of America. What kind of mixed message is that? Persons sexually abused by adults bear a wound that only Jesus can heal; persons abused by clergy struggle to even say His Name. Let judgment begin at our house, O God. Pray courage for Pope Francis to manifest his intolerance of clergy sexual abuse and its collaborators with a sword, not a kiss. He must lose clever, loyal friends in order to gain back our trust.

What we don’t know: the intolerable pressure of leading the biggest group of Christians in the world. Lord, have mercy on Francis. May he be closer to God in His mercy than an infant at its mother’s heart.

What we know: President Trump says/does what he wants whether it is true or not, refuses to admit wrongdoing, and eviscerates those who stand in his way. Oh, by the way, he is the fiercest defender of an infant’s right-to-life of any president. Pray for his success in stopping abortion rights in the USA.

What we don’t know: the intolerable pressure of leading the most powerful nation on earth. And why no-one has the power to curb his blather. Lord, have mercy on Donald. May He be closer to God in His mercy than an infant at its mother’s heart.

What we know: the Youth Synod (mostly graying bishops) continues til the end of October and includes a fight to expand the Church’s assimilation of ‘diverse’ (LBBT+) identities and families. Pray that champions of the imago dei–what it means to be human–prevail. Pray also that from the fire will emerge orthodox leaders better able to engage a generation about how Jesus restores lives.

What we don’t know: how centuries of clerical compromise (with fellow adults) and abuse (of children) have blocked healing passageways for the sexually broken throughout the Catholic Church. To the degree that secrets and lies still keep us bound, Lord have mercy. May the still being-exposed–Church be nearer to God in His mercy than an infant at its mother’s heart.

What we know: our children are wandering in a wilderness of half-truths empowered by an irrational drive toward exhibitionism (Hmmm, sounds like my teen years…) They appear to have lost sight of any ‘Father’ who might call them onto anything harder and higher than their latest fancy. Creating one’s own gender universe is a dramatic example. Let’s pray for Jesus, who always shows willing hearts His Father, to guide our loved ones into true love and identity.

What we don’t know: what is actually going on inside our loved ones. We cannot know another’s deepest heart and must respect that gap. Just think of what you now know about yourself. You weren’t hiding all these years; you just couldn’t see it yet! So too with those we love.

So in these forty days of Becoming Good News we slow down, we pray, and we cry out for mercy that the few words we say might be a bridge to the Father’s love. We impart best when giving from the overflow of this divine bond of love. May we and our loved ones be closer to God in His mercy than infants at their mother’s heart.

We’ll be starting our prayer/ fasting time on October 10th for anyone who wants to join. If you’d like to pray along with us, let us know and we can send you a book or you can get it through kindle here: https://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Good-News-Andrew-Comiskey-ebook/dp/B07F95JKP5!

 

 

 

 

 

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